March 3, 2004 —
U.S. Northern Command’s arsenal for deterring, preventing and defeating terrorism now includes an information sharing system with the capability of immediate dissemination of antiterrorism and force protection information.
Known as the Joint Protection Enterprise Network (JPEN), the system allows authorized subscribers to immediately share antiterrorism and force protection events with Department of Defense installations, operations centers and intelligence activities enabling them to make more timely and informed decisions.
JPEN requires no additional hardware or software. Users simply need a user identification, password and Internet browser to access the system.
“It’s too good to be true. It’s cheap, off-the-shelf, and it works!” said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a recent national security policy and strategy conference in Washington, D.C. “It uses commercial, off-the-shelf software that was modified slightly for this application. The beauty of it is, you can link anybody, and everybody can put in data.”
JPEN was initially created by the Joint Staff at the Pentagon in response to a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tasker to develop proactive tools to help fight the Global War on Terrorism. The Joint Staff Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems Directorate was responsible for the initial development of the system which debuted in June 2003 and focused on cross-domain information sharing within the National Capital Region.
Management of the JPEN system officially transferred to USNORTHCOM Dec. 5. The command, which declared full operational capability of its homeland defense mission Sept. 11, 2003, now has the responsibility to make the JPEN system operational across the nation.
“JPEN represents a significant ability to quickly share vital antiterrorism information in direct support to those on the front lines of force protection throughout this country,” said Maj. Gen. Dale Meyerrose, USNORTHCOM director of architectures and integration. “This system directly supports the USNORTHCOM mission of deterring, preventing and defeating terrorism against our Department of Defense assets.”
Noting homeland defense relies on actionable intelligence sharing at all government levels, Meyerrose said the information sharing culture must change from “the need to know to the need to share.”
Information shared in JPEN includes reports of suspected surveillance of military facilities; elicitation attempts and suspicious questioning; tests of security; unusual repetitive activities; bomb threats; and other suspicious activity. Additionally, JPEN can report incidents such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear alarms or alerts; fire and bomb explosions; vehicle turn-rounds; and force protection conditions.
“Information sharing provides military force protection personnel immediate access to the current threat environment and how it might affect their installation which allows them to respond more rapidly to changing threat conditions,” Meyerrose said.
The general noted USNORTHCOM plans to expand JPEN DoD-wide within its area of responsibility over the next two years.
“JPEN will become one of the tools in our standard antiterrorism and force protection toolkit used by all services and the 16 DoD field activities within the NORTHCOM area of responsibility."